Nonbinary environmental activist Tortuguita was killed by police / Photo via Stop Cop City ATL

LGBTQ Atlanta’s Top Stories of 2023

As another year passes, members of Atlanta’s queer community remain resilient by fighting our oppressors and celebrating our wins. In 2023, innocent members of our community have faced police brutality, the murder of our trans siblings, and the political persecution of nonbinary people and queer children. We witnessed the closing of an iconic venue, cheered as the City of Atlanta donated to trans organizations, decried the same city officials for supporting Cop City, and found healing through the power of activism and drag.


Nonbinary Environmental Activist Tortuguita Killed by Police

January 18, 2023

In January, a nonbinary activist protesting the construction of Cop City was shot multiple times and killed by law enforcement. Friends and family remember Tortuguita as a kind soul and a believer in nonviolence. Since the killing, multiple activists have been charged with terrorism and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation continues to withhold evidence from the public relating to Tortuguita’s murder.


Black Trans Women Koko Da Doll and Ashley Burton are Murdered Within Days of One Another

April 11 & April 18, 2023

Hairstylist Ashley Burton was killed on April 11, and in June a suspect was charged with her murder. Friends remember Burton as being “full of life” and “a very sweet young lady.”

Koko Da Doll was killed on April 18. Days after the murder, a suspect turned himself in. Koko was a star of the award-winning documentary, Kokomo City, which followed the lives of trans sex workers in Atlanta.


Mayor Dickens Announces $55,000 in Funding for Trans Community

May 10, 2023

Under an initiative spearheaded by councilmember Matt Westmoreland, Mayor Dickens announced the city will be donating the money to three organizations. The Atlanta Legal AID Society received $10,000, Destination Tomorrow received $25,000 and the Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective received $20,000.


Atlanta Pride Introduces New Executive Director

June 1, 2023

Atlanta Pride announced that Chris McCain would be the organization’s new Executive Director. McCain came from a background of serving as Director of Philanthropy at The Bail Project, a national nonprofit working to make sure the criminal justice system “works for all people no matter their race or wealth.”


Atlanta Drag Dominated the Small Screen

Various dates

On July 21, Atlanta rejoiced as RuPaul’s Drag Race star and local legend LaLa Ri won the coveted Queen of the Fame Games title on Drag Race All Stars 8. Months later, local king of comedy and horror Jarvis Hammer stunned audiences on the Boulet Brothers’ Dragula Season 5. Simultaneously, Drag Race UK Season 5 aired, showcasing the talents of Cara Melle, the show’s first Black trans contestant, who moved to England from Atlanta.


Cobb County School Board Fires Teacher for Reading Gender-inclusive Book

August 18, 2023

Katie Rinderle had been teaching for a decade when she was fired in a politically charged rebuke of LGBTQ inclusion. The teacher read a children’s picture book, “My Shadow Is Purple,” by Scott Stuart, to her class at Due West Elementary School. The book, which had been part of the school’s book fair, is about discovering identity as a nonbinary person.


Federal Court Blocks Part of Georgia Bill Targeting Transgender, Nonbinary Youth

August 20, 2023

The bill was passed in March to prohibit health care professionals from providing hormone replacement therapy and gender-affirming surgeries to minors. Doctors and LGBTQ activists have widely condemned the bill and similar ones circulating in conservative states. In August, a judge temporarily blocked part of the bill banning hormone replacement therapy.


Half of Atlanta Magazine’s Editorial Staff Quits after a Publisher Denounced “Progressive” Coverage

September 2023

Publisher Sean McGinnis scolded staff in a meeting for using a person’s correct they/them pronouns in an article, signaling the latest crackdown on coverage he allegedly deemed too progressive. Three of the magazine’s six staffers left, and the editor-in-chief announced plans to resign at the year’s end.


Wussy Pride Show “Mother” Serves as a Love Letter to Atlanta’s Drag Scene

October 14, 2023

Headlined by Sasha Colby and Anetra, Wussy’s pride party at Underground Atlanta functioned as a megamix of Atlanta drag, with performances by the casts of several regularly occurring shows throughout the city, including Manhole, NeonBlk, ALT3R, Chapel Beauty, and Persuasian. Also featured were performances by Drew Friday, EllaSaurus Rex, the House of ALXNDR, and Mr. Elle Aye, who won Wussy’s first pageant a few months prior.


Noni’s Closes Its Doors

October 28, 2023

After serving the community for 15 years, the LGBTQ-owned Italian eatery closed its doors this October after one final blowout party. The destination was much more than a restaurant; it served as a sacred space to Atlanta’s queer community and regularly hosted several shows, including trans-led drag shows Manhole and Chapel Beauty.